Menu planning or lack-there-of

While getting ready for our latest grocery shopping expedition, also known as ‘laying in supplies’, I was once again wondering if maybe I should become stricter in my ‘menu’ planning. Then the question turned from if I should to if I actually could. I still haven’t decided.

I love the menu boards that are on Pinterest, there are so many cute ones out there! In fact when I brought this subject up on Facebook a good friend of mine told me that she has been very successful using one of those boards for a weekly menu. I admire her! I have come to the conclusion though, that I am just not that organized yet. I have such great intentions and then life happens to me and the menu falls by the wayside. So I have started doing something else. I have to do something, I mean we shop for groceries once a month! Completely winging it is not an option.

What I do could not be called a menu since I don’t have a designated day for each meal. It is instead more a list of options. At the end of each month, Jason and I make a list of meals that we want to have during the next month. We ask the kids also and those are the nights we eat pancakes. I swear my kids would live on pancakes if I let them! I make a big list of these meals and next to each one I write down which cookbook it’s out of. This is how I incorporate new meals into our lives as well. I try for at least one new recipe a week. Have you ever got stuck in a rut where you find yourself eating the same thing every week or is that just me? Now, some meals are ok to do that with, but meatloaf every six days is just not cool! If I have a new recipe on the list though with a reference to the cookbook, then I find myself excited to try it.

Next I take this list and go through the recipes writing down any ingredients that I need. One thing that I pay attention to is how many ‘new’ ingredients a recipe calls for. If I want to try a recipe but it calls for more than two new ingredients, ‘new’ as in I don’t usually buy them, I hesitate to use that recipe. Why? If I have never bought those ingredients before in the ten years I have been cooking, then there is a big chance I won’t use them in anything else. Problem? We have a strict budget and every single dollar counts so I don’t want to spend money on something that I will only use once. If I really wanted to try it though, I first look into if I can substitute one of the ingredients or if I can make them from scratch. This is an option more than you would think! I have found recipes for almost anything.

When making our shopping list I always take note of our ‘basics’ too. These are the things that I know without a doubt we use every month. Noodles, cream of mushroom soup, all baking supplies, cereal, sausage, cheese, ect. . Basically these get placed in our cart every month unless for some odd reason we didn’t eat as much as we usually do. The good news about these basics is that they aren’t exactly going to go bad if they sit for a couple of months, and I like to have extra.

The best part about this list, is that you become familiar with what you really use and what you don’t. Knowing this is huge when you are in the store. We have found that there are isles in Wal-Mart or Costco that we don’t have to go down at all. That in and of itself is a money saver as we aren’t seeing that ‘thing’ that we never knew we needed! It also cuts down on the amount of time you are in the store. We have Costco down to a fine art since they don’t change their isles around ever. In and out of there in 45 minutes, and that’s with all the kids along! Then there is Wal-mart….you already know where I am going with this before I say anything. Do they change their isles every day or just every other day? All I know is every month things have changed and they have less and less. A. nnoying. !! Oh well, I guess it is what it is and now that we go with a plan in hand it’s not as bad as it used to be!

This month I am going to be working on some freezer meals and if they turn out I will share them with you! I have also had some friends show interest in our DIY recipes so I am going to start sharing them as well. There are probably some of you out there who will read them and go “well duh Bobbie, we’ve been doing it like that for forever!”, but to me they were a new concept and super exciting, and I’m hoping that others will think so too!

This is where you come in now. Is there anything that you are curious about as far as groceries, meals, DIY or anything along those lines? If I can share anything with you to make your shopping easier, help you save some money, or help you do more from scratch at home, than I want to make sure  I cover that for you! Even if it seems silly to ask, please do anyway! I can’t promise an answer but I will sure try!

Love from my unorganized self,






19 thoughts on “Menu planning or lack-there-of

    • You sound like me!! That and ‘ways to save money’ articles. Jason always laughs at me saying that I don’t need to read those articles, I need to write them. 🙂 I will do a post soon with our typical shopping list. Thank you for telling me!

  1. Well if that’s the case, I guess mine is more of an “option” plan than a menu plan, too! I plan out what we will eat for the entire month, but I never assign days. It works out much better to be able to choose the meal that best fits the weather, our moods, and how much time I want to spend in the kitchen on a particular day. Assigning days never worked out for me, so I quit worrying about that. 🙂 Here’s my menu plan (option plan!) if you are interested:

  2. I’m wondering if because y’all live on a ranch, if you get beef as part of your pay? We live on 2 acres currently and I keep looking at our field out back, imagining a nice steer out there. 🙂


    • We do recieve a beef a year which is a HUGE help in the shopping department! As we all know meat is not cheap! If you have the room then I would highly recommend a steer! Janet, I also have to appologize for never getting back to you about an email! I actually never went back to see if there were new comments on that post. :/ My bad! Soooo, I will be heading on over to your blog soon but in the meantime I started an email just for the blog! email away and tell me your story! 🙂

  3. It’s fun to hear how you do things, Bobbie. Since we only have one kid at home now, it’s easy to plan and cook spur of the moment since we don’t eat that much, but when all four were home it was a lot of work.

    One of my best homeschool plans ever was to assign each of the kids one supper per week. My husband also cooked a meal every Sunday which meant I only had to cook 2 suppers a week during the bulk of my homeschool years – I think we did the plan for about 8 years.

    My kids each developed their areas of specialties (one always cooked Mexican, one always included bread, and even the youngest who was 4 when we started the system cooked chicken breasts with barbecue sauce and baked potatoes every week until she learned another meal which was a long time as I remember right).

    The kids loved it and felt proud of their efforts and they are all great cooks today with the youngest at 16 and oldest 25. Plus it saved me a ton of time which is always nice for homeschooling moms!

    • Barb, I actually just read that idea in a book! I love the thought of the kids each having a meal, not just for the spreading out of work but for the life skill it is teaching them! Thank you for affirming to me that it works!
      I have really been an absentee blog follower lately and I’m sorry! We are moving back into our house in the next couple of days and after that I will be catching back up on your posts, it’s something I’m really looking forward to! 🙂

      • It definitely works – it’s just a little labor intensive the first month or so as you’re teaching them how to cook and they’re getting over their messy ways of throwing flour all over the place as they cook! We stuck with only 1 or 2 meals for each kid until they mastered them and then they branched out as they got more independent. Obviously, the older kids can do more elaborate meals than the younger ones! I am getting ready to switch my blog to a new address sometime soon. If you can’t find it at the old address, it will be at I’m finally biting the bullet and switching to self-hosted wordpress – scary!

  4. Costco never changing their aisles?! I can never find anything at Costco because they are always moving items. I used to shop twice a month and made out flexible menus for those two weeks. Never designated a weekend meal as we just ate leftovers or whatever was quick and easy. Now I rarely cook! It’s definitely a skill that you lose if you don’t use it!

  5. I really need ideas on how to prepare lunches and dinners for the week on the weekends. I NEVER have time in the morning to make my lunch before heading to work (ya, I know, get up earlier – it isn’t going to happen). So, any ideas?

  6. I love this idea. I’ve tried meal planning before, but I did assign meals to days. It just didn’t work for me as I didn’t know exactly what time I was going to get off work, and trying to cook a pot roast at 8pm just didn’t work. LOL

  7. Oh, Bobbie, it would KILL me to shop only once per month. Literally. Though we pull many fresh greens and such from our own yard (we can here in Zone 8), I still frequent the local grocery or my farmer for fresh staples as romaine, beets/greens, collards, kale, turnips. The FRESH stuff. Our pantry items are “thin,” in that there are some things that I simply don’t run out of (and shop once per month for, in bulk): variety of grains, dried beans, tater flakes and whole wheat pasta choices (for quickies!), nut butters, and snack nuts. Oh…and BEER.

    As you know, it’s all about the fridge for me. I AM the reigning queen of fridge space!! But please don’t make me plan meals and have to shop once per month. I’ll concede that crown to you, my dear.

    Hope you’re well!

    PS — Homeschooling is ON for August!! 6th grader only, at this point in the game. Unfortunately, remodeling the kitchen is now off. 😦

    • Ok, so the way you eat I understand shopping more frequently! 🙂
      What made you decide to homeschool? I know a lot has been going on in the local schools here that has pushed a lot of new people into the homeschool scene lately. You will have to let me know how it all goes!! I’m excited for you but I am sorry about the kitchen. 😦

  8. Oh, I just wish I could come up with a way to stick to meal planning! We try it..and it works for a couple weeks…but then we are back to winging it and have nothing in the house we actually need. I keep telling myself THIS is the year. I’m looking forward to your freezer meal posts!- Renee

    • I’m still working on the freezer meals, but they will come, I SWEAR!! 🙂 Have you tried the flexible menu approach? I think if you can have 10 recipes that you always have the ingredients for, then you will at least not have to run to the store or grab fast food. Some of my last second meals are , stroganoff, salisbury steaks, a big salad with all the fixins, biscuits and gravy, shepherds pie,… by the way if you want any of those recipes I would love to share them!

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